Travelers today are becoming increasingly more conscious of sustainability. Guests want to stay at clean destinations that protect the environment and contribute to the local community. When it comes to finding an eco-friendly hotel, many advertise that they are “eco” without ever disclosing their efforts toward sustainable travel, leaving consumers without enough information to make an informed decision.
As a result, many businesses in the tourism industry are turning to sustainable certificates, or eco-labels. An eco-friendly hotel with a sustainable certificate has undergone a third-party verification process to assess that the business meets international sustainability standards related to the social, ethical, and environmental impact of the business. There are many different sustainable certificates, and EarthCheck is one of them.
What is EarthCheck?
EarthCheck is Australia’s leading tourism research, certification, advisory, and benchmarking group. It was developed by the Sustainable Tourism CRC, a research center specializing in sustainable tourism. Their mission is to help companies, communities, and governments offer ethical and clean destinations for travelers. Since 1987, EarthCheck has credited more than 1,500 members, in 32 sectors, in more than 70 countries worldwide.
EarthCheck achieved ‘GSTC-Recognized Standards’ status by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) in 2017. This means that EarthCheck’s sustainable tourism standards for hotels, tour guides, and destinations adhere to or are equivalent to the GSTC Criteria. EarthCheck also underwent an intensive verification process to become GSTC-accredited for destinations. There are only three certification bodies in the world, one of which is EarthCheck, that have received this mark of quality for destination certification from GSTC.
How it Works:
EarthCheck Certifications are available for the entire tourism industry including resorts and hotels, convention centers, tour operators, destinations, airlines, and theme parks. Businesses volunteer to undergo a thorough evaluation to gain certification.
The first stage is to gather quantitative data to evaluate and benchmark a company’s environmental and social performance against standards in the Key Performance Areas (KPA). There are 10 KPAs including greenhouse gas emissions, energy, water, and waste management, social and cultural management, and more.
EarthCheck evaluates company data, identifies critical issues, and helps the company prioritize initiatives. The framework offered by EarthCheck allows businesses to continue to expand their efforts toward sustainable travel in the months and years to come.
After benchmarking, businesses work with EarthCheck to continue to develop action plans, strengthen their processes, and create initiatives. During this time, an independent third party performs onsite audits. They inspect all of the data that was collected during benchmarking to ensure credibility and commitment to sustainable tourism. Every 12 months the certification must be renewed. High performing businesses can even move up certification levels.
How to Find EarthCheck Accommodations
- Look for the EarthCheck logo on websites and brochures
- Online Booking Partner: Websites such as TripAdvisor routinely update and advertise sustainable certifications
- Choose an EarthCheck Partner Company: Browse the list of certified eco-friendly hotels and chains such as Sandals or Hard Rock Hotels
- EarthCheck Interactive Map: Every four hours the map is updated with active members so that you can browse by location.
Make sure to look for EarthCheck or another GSTC-recognized certification company to ensure sustainable travel on your next vacation.
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